Experiment: The Hardware Listing

I just realized that I forgot to list the hardware that we are using for this experiment. I originally posted a small list in a different category here…so I’ll put it here and explain more.

  • Mobo: Abit NF7 2.0
  • CPU: Athlon XP 2400
  • RAM: Crucial 1024MB (512X2) PC2700 (underclocked for these tests)
  • HD: Maxtor 7200rpm 120GB, Western Digital 6GB 5400rpm
  • CD/DVD: NEC 2510A DVD-R/RW 8X
  • Video: GeForce 4 Ti 4400 128MB
  • NIC: integrated nforce2
  • Keyboard/Mouse: Standard PS/2 and Multimedia Keyboard
  • Sound: SB Audigy Platinum X-Gamer
  • Floppy: Mitsumi Standard 1.44 Floppy

Ok, so now we know about the hardware setup. Mrs.Devnet has already saved her entry and I’ll get to publishing it. Please point out anything I might be lacking from the hardware list. Thanks for reading!

Experiment: Initial Impressions of Mandrake 10.1 Community

This is my first entry in the experiment that I have been volunteered for by my husband. I said I would do this because I like the idea of a free operating system and I’ve always heard my husband talk about how great it would be if we could use linux instead of windows. Here is my chance to find out if this would ever really be an option for us.

I installed Mandrake today with minimal help. I could have done it on my own but I just wanted to get on with things so I asked a few questions. There are a few things about the install that aren’t exactly new user friendly, but if I think back to some windows installs I probably did some guessing then too.

This is my initial impression after a little over an hour of use:

Starting with the criteria, I think the look of the desktop is okay. Nothing fantastic but it’s pretty easy to navigate and that is what is most important to me. I haven’t tried changing anything, I haven’t done much of anything yet. I am very frustrated that I had to ask for help getting the sound to work. This should be really easy to do but for someone who knows nothing about “ALSACONF” it’s a bit of a problem. The very next thing I wanted to do was be able to surf the web and have my own website render properly. This wasn’t going to happen without java. I decided to do a search for java downloads. I found one, downloaded it, easy enough. Opening the file was a different story. I tried everything I could think of but I ended up asking for help. This is a complete turn-off to me. If I was on my own I’d be screwed. I want to give up, however I’ve been informed that I will not be getting out of this so easily. You will be hearing from me in a day or so. Now I get to go feel like an idiot some more. –BTW, the very same keyboard I use in windows is MMMMMMuch more sensitive in linux. I find that odd. Anyway . . .

The Criteria

I’ve been neglecting the ‘experiment’ for the last couple of days. So, I’ve decided to post the things that will be considered when we review the 5 picked desktop distributions of Linux. This will not be a “normal” Linux review in the sense of that word…instead we’ll opt for a largly ‘new user look’ at how each desktop distro performs for a new user and how it asthetically feels for that new user because, let’s face it, if something doesn’t work or looks unpleasant for a new user right away…they’re going to run back to Windows quick fast and in a hurry. It is also important to note that my wife who knows little of Linux will be taking these distributions for a drive from install to remove. Here I am rambling again! Ok, without further adieu, here it is:

  1. The Feel/Look – How does the desktop layout ‘feel’? Is it pleasant to look at? How is the organization in the menu’s? Do you feel as though you are ‘in control’ of this desktop (i.e., windows control panel gives a one stop place for users to go…is there something similar?). Does the OS make you feel comfortable when you perform your regular tasks? Is it easy to change the look and feel of your desktop?
  2. The Perfomance – How does the desktop perform when you tax it (i.e., when it has multi-apps open and running)? Is it quicker or slower than ‘normal’? Can you perform your regular tasks without any intervention? Do things, ‘just work’ out of the box? Do you notice any difference in speed (overall such as browsing, burning, listening, copying, etc)? Is it scalable?
  3. Hardware/Software – Does the distro detect everything? Does it have all the software you may need? Is it clear up front how to get software? Does it offer visible help if hardware doesn’t detect?? added based on reader comments:? How easy is it to install and use software not included on the default install.
  4. Upgradeability/Security – Is the distro upgradeable? Does the distro make it clear how to patch your system? Does the distro make you feel secure? Does the distro have options for firewall? Does it provide help with setting a firewall up?
  5. Documentation – Is there a clear place to go for documentation on the distro? Are there supportive forums or websites you can visit to get started? Does the existing documentation make you feel good about using the distro? Is there a lack of information available?
  6. The Installation – Was the installation clear and concise? Did the installation complete with minimal interaction? Did the install process have a good look and feel? Did the installation take a long time? Were there any downsides to the installation process?

Ok…so there are the six main points I’ve come up with thus far to rate the distros on. We’re not going to go in depth with most stuff and we’ll post 3-5 screenshots from each distro doing different stuffs. I don’t have a screen capture card so I won’t be able to provide screenshots from the installs. Anyway, as stated earlier, we’ll go into detail with how the distro feels/looks and performs and concentrate on whether or not eveyrthing ‘just works’ out of the box because that is what a new user would do. Hopefully, one of these distros will stand up to that challenge…afterall, they are the top distributions available for free currently right?